Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee signalled on 26 March that India intends to go ahead with a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline from Iran via Pakistan despite objections from the United States.
“Talks on this pipeline are going on. When I was in Iran, I had categorically mentioned that we are interested in having this pipeline,” Mukherjee said in an interview with the NDTV news network.“Now negotiations are going on about the prices,” said the minister, who made a two-day vist to Tehran last month.
Oil Minister Murli Deora also said last week that India was committed to the project. The remarks come after a visit to India by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, who has urged New Delhi to drop the plan.
Washington, which accuses Tehran of supporting terrorism and trying to make a nuclear bomb, says Iran will use the revenue generated from the pipeline to finance these activities.
Talks on the proposed $7.4 billion-dollar project began in 1994 but stalled due to tensions between rivals Pakistan and India but the discussions gathered momentum after the launch of a peace process between them in 2004.
Despite being US allies in its global “war on terror,” India and Pakistan have said they want to go ahead with the 2,600-kilometre (1,600-mile) Iranian pipeline project as they need energy to fuel economic growth.
Iran plans to lay a pipeline from the giant South Pars gas field to carry 90 million standard cubic meters per day of gas.
On 24 March, the UN Security Council slapped new sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear weapons programme in addition to curbs imposed in December.The fresh sanctions block all Iranian arms exports and freeze the overseas assets of 28 additional officials and institutions linked to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.